The North Charleston Coliseum will soon sprout wings.

The central events venue of the Lowcountry, now in its 17th year, will undergo a major expansion and renovation project starting after the Fourth of July at a cost of roughly $18 million, coliseum general manager Dave Holscher said Tuesday.

Two 15,000-square-foot additions will jut out at the north and south entrances, the ticket booth and most of the concession stands will be moved, bathrooms and serving areas will be added to eight box seats, the audio system will be reworked and the overhead rigging will be enhanced to allow performances to be set up more easily.

The city opens bids June 3. City Council could sign off on the project by the end of June.

The first phase, to be completed by next spring, will include expansion at the south entrance, or the Montague Avenue side of the round structure, where the ticket office will be moved from the north side.

The first wing, to be called

Montague Terrace, will extend from the existing concourse to the curb. Like its twin to be built on the opposite side in a second phase, it will include a 10,000-square-foot open space that can be closed off from the coliseum's concourse to accommodate wedding receptions, fundraisers and performances too small for the adjacent North Charleston Performing Arts Center or the coliseum itself. A balcony will protrude from the additions as well.

"We are trying to make it a much more upscale space that can be used for several activities," Holscher said.

The ticket office will be below the south addition, which will become the main entrance to the coliseum.

Concession stands on each side of the concourse will be dismantled and moved to each side of the new wings, where a greater variety of menu items can be offered in expanded kitchens. Concession booths at the coliseum's east end will remain in place.

"It will triple the amount of food service," Holscher said.

Moving the concession stands to the new wings will do away with bottlenecks that form on the concourse, according to Mayor Keith Summey. People lined up to be served sometimes block the flow of patrons walking to their seats or the bathrooms.

"When you get 4,000 or 5,000 people getting to the concession areas and going to the bathrooms and their seats, it gets a little challenging in there sometimes," Holscher said.

In the second phase, box suites on either side of the coliseum's arena will overtake the former concession booths. A small kitchen, serving area and private bathroom will be added to each suite. The second wing also will be added as funding becomes available, North Charleston Finance Director Warren Newton said.

The city has $8 million from bond sales for the first phase of the project, Newton said. The second phase could start next spring on the north wing on the International Boulevard side.

Holscher said construction will not interfere with performances at the 13,295-seat facility.

"No matter what, the show will go on," he said. "Once it's finished, it will be a vastly improved experience for the patrons."

Reach Warren Wise at 937-5524 or